24 Jan 2023 — Tech tycoon Bill Gates is backing, through its Breakthrough Energy Ventures accelerator, Rumin8, a start-up targeting methane emissions in agriculture through its synthetically replicated red seaweed. The company’s final product is showcased as “highly efficient, low-cost, scalable and high-quality process to feed” and is set to reduce the gas creation.
Rumin8 conducted a phase 2 seed round of funding, raising US$12 million to realize commercial trials in Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and the US. Other investors include agri-food business Harvest Road Group.
“We are seeking solutions to reduce methane emissions in livestock supply chains, with Harvest Road supporting multiple emerging technologies focussed on methane reduction in ruminant animals,” says Paul Slaughter, CEO of Harvest Road Group.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNCE), methane’s global warming potential is 28 to 34 times the one of CO2 in the first 100 years.
In the first 20 years in the atmosphere, methane emissions are even more pronounced as they cause 84 to 86 times more warming than CO2. Therefore, methane emission cutting has a faster incidence in combating global warming than targeting other emissions.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures is backed by some of the wealthiest billionaires in the world, such as the founders of Amazon, Alibaba and Bloomberg – Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and Michael Bloomberg.
With the phase 2 round of funding being over-subscribed, the company expects to be able to fund all its initiatives.
“Our laboratory results continue to yield excellent results, our animal trials reflect the laboratory results, and the financial modeling we are undertaking indicates we will be able to supply our products at a commercial price point,” says David Messina, Rumin8’s managing director.
“Prior to the phase 2 seed funding round, we were progressing a number of key work streams sequentially. Now we have the resources to progress them in parallel, speeding up the road to commercialization,” he continues.
Last week, French dairy giant Danone pledged to reduce its absolute methane emissions from its fresh milk supply chain by 30% by 2030.
The Ministry for the Environment of New Zealand unveiled last year a 2030 plan for the country to become the first in the world to tax farmers up to 5.5% for their livestock methane emissions.
In May, Ben & Jerry’s, Straus Family Creamery and Clover Sonoma unveiled Blue Ocean Barns, a supplement for cows made from dehydrated red seaweed that cuts emissions by more than 80%. The California Department of Food and Agriculture approved the supplement as an authorized digestive aid for cattle.
By Marc Cervera
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